Published: Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Scotland upbeat as heart transplants triple



Organ donors also increase by a third

The number of life-saving heart transplants carried out on Scottish patients has tripled in just a year, figures released today show.

The increase comes as record levels of patients in Scotland received an organ transplant last year thanks to a 31 per cent increase in the number of people who became organ donors.

In 2013 113 people donated their organs for transplant, compared to 86 the year before. Because of the generosity of donors, 24 heart transplants were carried out on Scottish patients – up from 8 in 2012.

In total 331 patients in Scotland received a potentially life-saving organ transplant in 2013, a figure Public Health Minister Michael Matheson described as testament to the “generosity and thoughtfulness” of those who took the decision to donate their organs.

The majority of lung and heart transplants are carried out by the Scottish National Advanced Heart Failure Service (SNAHFS) based at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital in Clydebank.

Mr Matheson said: “In Scotland, our work on organ donation and transplantation continues to go from strength to strength and so it’s great to see record levels of people receiving the life-saving transplant they desperately need.

“Of course none of this would be possible without the generosity and thoughtfulness of those who have donated their organs and in doing so, saved the lives of others. In Scotland we have been working hard to ensure that we can honour the wishes of as many as possible who wish to become organ donors. These figures show how successful we have been and that more and more people in Scotland are receiving the transplants they so desperately need.

“It is particularly pleasing to see such a significant increase in the numbers of heart transplant patients over the last few years – a real testament to the hard work of all the staff involved across the NHS in Scotland.

“To ensure we can continue to carry out more transplants and reduce the number of people waiting for an organ, we need more people in Scotland to join the NHS Organ Donor Register and make their wishes known to their friends and family.”

Professor Nawwar Al-Attar, Surgical Lead for the SNAHFS, said: “Since 2010 there has been a steady increase in the number of patients undergoing heart transplantation. This has risen 185% in four years. At the same time, there has been a considerable improvement in outcomes.

“These figures confirm that the strategy put in place by the Golden Jubilee team is working to ensure that patients in Scotland whose lives are threatened or disabled by heart failure receive the best care and treatment options.”

Mark Petrie, Director of SNAHFS, added: “The aims of our strategy were to develop a consistent, equitable, Scotland–wide referral pathway for advanced heart failure. There was also a requirement to develop a comprehensive Scottish VAD (Ventricular Assist Devices, or mechanical hearts) programme within the SNAHFS at the Golden Jubilee National Hospital and this has been successfully introduced.

“Since 2007, the number of organ donors in Scotland has significantly increased , which is fantastic as it has allowed us to help more people than ever before. However, moving forward, there is a need to have a further increase in this number to ensure we meet the need of everyone requiring heart transplantation.”

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